For 58 years Don Peachey and his band have been appearing all over Wisconsin and the Midwest down to Texas, and today he’s appearing in Cleveland, Ohio to be inducted into the International Polka Hall of Fame.
Not a bad “tip of the hat” to a Burnett boy whose first gig was in Fairwater.
“I have two jobs, the grain and farm supply business here in Burnett, and the band,” said Peachey.
Peachey said his sister Jane was the first to start playing the accordion.
“She now plays trumpet with “The Downtowners” in Fond du Lac,” he said. “I started playing the accordion when I was 14. I took accordion lessons at the Beaver Dam Music Center.”
When Peachey was a junior in high school he formed his own polka band and their first paying engagement was in Fairwater.
In 1951 Peachey graduated from Horicon High School, spent two years in the Army,then returned to his home in Burnett.
Peachey said his band averages one to three engagements a week, and that he has five to six members traveling with him, including his son John who plays the trumpet.
Peachey said he heartily agrees with piano player Victor Borge’s observation, “If I don’t practice for a day, I can tell the difference, If I don’t practice for two days my critics can tell the difference, and if I don’t practice for three days, my audience can tell the difference.”
This is why, even when not at an engagement, Peachey still practices the songs that he’s played hundreds if not thousands of times.
“And I like them all the same,” he said.
Peachey said the most requested songs they get are “The Beer Barrel Polka,” “Blue Skirt Waltz” and “Blue Spanish Eyes.”
With Waupun’s Volksfest coming next month, Peachey pointed with pleasure to the fact that he helped start the event, and he’s pleased at the success it has grown to be.
The Don Peachey Band has recorded 15 CD’s. Their biggest hit was a novelty tune called “Horsie Keep Your Tail Up”.
Peachey was elected “Bandleader of the Year” by the Wisconsin Orchestra Leaders Association in 1973 and he was inducted into the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame in 1998.
His band has appeared in 13 states including Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.